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Frequently Asked Questions:

What is menstruation?

Menstruation is the normal, healthy shedding of blood and tissue from the uterus that exits the body through the vagina. The vagina is the small opening that girls have between their legs. Menstruation is also called a girls/woman’s “period.” It usually lasts between three and seven days. Menstruation happens for most girls about once a month. It is a sign that a girl can now become pregnant. Women stop menstruating during pregnancy but then start again after delivery.

At what age does a girl start menstruating?

Just as some girls begin puberty earlier or later than others, the same applies to periods. Some girls may begin to menstruate as early as age nine or 10, and some may not get their first period until a few years later. Menstruation usually stops in the 40’s and this is known as menopause.

How does a girl know when her first period is about to start?

No one can be sure exactly when this will happen. Most girls begin menstruating between the ages of 11 and 14. The best way a girl can know is to look for signs. Underarm hair and a whitish discharge from the vagina are signs that the menarche probably is not too far away.

Girls are scared about getting their periods. Does it hurt?

The process of menstruation itself is painless. Some girls experience cramps or other symptoms before or at the start of their period. There is no need to be scared about getting the periods. It is a completely normal process.

What should a girl do when she gets her first period?

If you know about menstruation before it happens for the first time, you will be better prepared to handle this situation without fear or embarrassment. If it does come unexpectedly, do not panic. Your teachers, family members, and close relatives are there to support you and to provide directions on what products to use to absorb the menstrual flow.

What happens during menstruation?

Girls have thousands of tiny eggs in their ovaries even at the time of birth. Each month, or approximately every 21 – 35 days, on average, one of the eggs leaves an ovary and travels through a fallopian tube. When the egg leaves the ovary, this is called ovulation. Normally, the ovaries alternate each month, releasing an egg from the left ovary one month and then releasing an egg from the right ovary the next month. As the egg travels in the fallopian tube, a soft spongy lining forms in the uterus. This lining is mostly made of tiny blood vessels and is called the endometrium.
The lining gives nourishment in case an egg and sperm meet to form an embryo, or baby, that begins to grow in the uterus. If the egg is not joined by a sperm, the endometrium or lining of the uterus is not needed. It flows out of the vagina. This bleeding is called a period. This whole cycle is called menstruation.

How long should a girl’s period last?

Because all girls are different, menstrual periods can vary from girl to girl. One girl might have a 3-day period and another girl might have a 7-day period. It might take several months/years for a girl’s period to become regular. One month the period might last 4 days, whereas the next month it might be 6 days. Number of days that normally a girl’s period should last is anything from 3 to 7 days.

What if a girl’s period never starts?

Periods will start sooner or later. However, if a girl reaches age 16 and has not yet had her first period, she should visit a health provider/doctor.

Is it normal to have some sort of white or yellow discharge in between the periods?

Girls can sometimes see secretions on their underpants or experience a feeling of wetness. These secretions are a whitish liquid which occur around the time of ovulation, when the body is ready to receive a fertilized egg. Secretions help sperm travel through the uterus to meet the egg for fertilization, so when a girl has secretions, she knows that this is the time when she is fertile. Paying attention to vaginal secretions helps girls understand their bodies. For example, yellow or strong-smelling secretions are not normal. These kinds of secretions are often a sign of infection, it is better to consult a doctor.

Are there any foods to avoid during a period?

No. The idea that certain foods should not be eaten at this time is a myth. However, lower intake of sodium salts helps in reducing the bloated feeling associated during periods.